Internode Blog

How to reduce your smartphone screen time

Tuesday, June 16th, 2020 by

For most of us, smartphones are invaluable parts of our everyday lives but it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Spending too much time on one’s phone doesn’t just cause procrastination problems – it can also lead to poor posture and even negatively affect our mood!

If you’re looking to make a positive lifestyle change and cut down on your smartphone screen time, look no further. We’ve put together some great tips to help you spend less time on the phone and improve your general wellbeing.

Find out how much time you really spend on your phone

The first step to developing better habits is to understand your current ones. Fortunately, your smartphone can help you keep track of just how much you’re using it.

  • iPhone users can take advantage of Screen Time, a built-in feature on devices running iOS 12 and later. After turning the feature on, your iPhone will keep track of your usage, including the different types of apps you use and even how many times you picked up your phone.
  • Android phone users will need a third-party app to track their usage. We recommend Digital Wellbeing, a free app that can track your usage time on each app, phone pick-ups and notifications. It also has a Do Not Disturb mode for night time.

Recognising good screen time and bad screen time

Screen time isn’t necessarily evil; in fact, a lot of the time, it’s not even a ‘necessary evil’. Smartphones are incredibly useful tools that give us the ability to communicate and access services that our ancestors (or even just our parents) could only dream of. So we shouldn’t feel bad every single time we use them – we just need to be a little more self-conscious about why we’re using them. A FaceTime call with the family? Great! Scrolling aimlessly through social media for hours on end? There’s definitely room for improvement. Once you’ve set up Screen Time or Digital Wellbeing to give you a report on your screen time, you’ll be able to make some informed decisions on how to best change your phone habits. Both apps give you the option to set usage time limits if you really need to give yourself a push.

Gameify your focus

If games like Pokémon GO got you to take a walk, then Forest just might get you to leave your phone untouched for extended periods of time. This clever little app makes a game out of staying on track. Whenever you need to take a break from smartphone time-wasting, just open Forest, plant a seed, and wait. If you give up too early, your tree will die, but if you last long enough, your tree will grow into an adorable addition to your own digital forest. Best of all, the app is partnered with Trees for the Future – over 600,000 real-world trees have been planted so far!

Free to download for Android and iOS.

Nix those notifications!

Another big reason we spend so much time on our phones is because, well, they tell us to. In recent years, the frequency of apps pinging us with notifications has skyrocketed, and they often aren’t telling us anything that we consider important. Unfortunately, these notifications are often designed to pester us into opening their related apps as much as possible. Our blog article Stay focused with fewer mobile notifications will help you cut out some of these notifications so your phone is less of a distraction in your everyday life.

Get a no-screen hobby

Is your smartphone a phone, or a pastime? If you find your hand inching towards your phone every time you get bored, then consider getting a hobby that will direct your attention to other things. Ask your friends if they have any ideas for a group activity, or just pick something at random from Wikipedia’s list of hobbies and see how you go. Some favourites from around the office include cross-stitch, running, baking, homebrewing and weight training. You never know what you might learn from trying new things!

Cut the (metaphorical) cord

Phones haven’t had cords in a long time, and that makes them really easy to take with us absolutely everywhere. If your find yourself taking your phone with you to the toilet, eating meals with your phone, or having your phone by your bedside when you sleep, then it might be best to spend some time apart. It could be as simple as leaving your phone in your bag at your next coffee catch-up with friends instead of having it on the table. The bolder among us may even want to leave their phones home for a day to take a ‘tech break’. Over time, you’ll find yourself more engaged with the people around you, and you won’t need to use your phone so often.


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